Liquid detergent: New art of gold smuggling at Chennai Airport

Seized gold
Seized gold

A hide and seek game has always been a part between Indian Customs and gold smugglers, who have come up with various innovative methods each time to escape their attention at the International airports to smuggle gold. Whether concealing gold in the mouth or rectum, in honey or grease, as hardware components or hooks of inner wear, they are game for any means to smuggle it into the state.

In a latest development customs officials from Chennai Air Intelligence Unit have seized liquid gold worth Rs 7.28 lakh concealed in a detergent from an air passenger who arrived from Dubai.

Abdul Niyas, who carried liquid detergent bottle in his bag
Abdul Niyas, who carried liquid detergent bottle in his bag

Acting on specific information, the custom officials intercepted the 25-year-old passenger namely Abdul Niyas, who had arrived from Dubai by Emirates Airlines flight EK 546 at the Chennai International terminal, on August 29, 2017.

Niyaz was intercepted after he had passed through the customs green channel and was walking towards the exit of the arrival hall. The vigilant custom officials on suspicion, that he might have concealed gold/contraband inside his baggage. After thorough search of his belongings, it led to the seizure of the liquid gold, an official release said.

Confiscated liquid detergent Bottle in which liquid gold was hidden
Confiscated liquid detergent Bottle in which liquid gold was hidden

Initial investigations revealed that Abdul Niyas was carrying the liquid gold concealed in a can as a popular detergent namely TIDE brand. The plastic cans which had the detergent were unusually heavy forcing the authorities to test the solution.

The release said “The solution inside the detergent bottle was Aqua Regia solution which can dissolve gold. The gold was extracted by way of heating the solution in clay pot. After evaporation of liquid, the gold in powder form was extracted and then converted into pellets.

A government approved valuer carried out the whole process which took nearly 14 hours to ascertain quality and quantity.

The gold seized was of 245 grams of 24 Carat purity valued at Rs 7.28 lakh, the release added.

It may be worth mentioning here that this incident comes days after a similar case in which a passenger from Malaysia had tried to smuggle gold in liquid form on August 23 at the Chennai airport.

A senior custom official from Chennai custom on the condition of anonymity said “The gold smugglers think they are smart, but we are smartest. It is an age old tradition amongst smugglers to bring in smuggled gold in to country by using different methods. But we have also enhanced our network of informer and other intelligence inputs to keep a tab on illegal activities. Through strict vigil we come to know their latest techniques. Within a week time, this is a second seizure of gold at Chennai airport because of advanced intelligence. We will leave no stone unturned to curb the menace 24 x 7”.

Author: Sitaram Mewati

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